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The European Commission is calling on all Member States to implement and enforce laws giving paid-for content providers protection from electronic piracy.

In the EC's book, electronic pay-services are provided by TV, radio and internet, but it is clear that the big sums being lost to piracy are leeching out of pay-TV.

In a report published yesterday on the implementation of the 1998 Directive on legal protection for electronic pay services, the EC urged members to fight electronic piracy. "The pirates and those who use their devices are taking a free ride on the backs of legitimate operators and users," it says. An early and powerful signal from Member States will prevent electronic pay-services piracy becoming socially acceptable, in the manner of digital music piracy, the Commission argues.

It is keen to closed any electronic piracy safe havens within individual Member States, although it does not name or shame any countries. Pay-for TV companies should get their act together too, the EC says. Consumers do not see why they are refused access to subscriber services because they are in the "wrong" country. If they can't pay for services, they will look for pirated smart cards to gain access. So TV broadcasters, for instance, should navigate their way through contractual agreements to provide cross-border services and payment options, the EC recommends. ®

The EC report is here. &Reg;

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